This black beauty is a 1958 Hongqi CA72 parade car prototype. It debuted a few months after the CA72 sedan prototype. Like the sedan, the open-top parade car was intended for the 1959 parade in Beijing, which was to celebrate the 10th birthday of Communist rule in China.
The CA72 sedan prototype was based on a 1955 Chrysler C69 Imperial Four Door Sedan. We do not know for sure where the parade car was based on. We do know that the sedan was shipped to Beijing as a present for Chairman Mao, but he never was seen using it and the car vanished from earth; no other pictures have ever emerged.
It is therefore not entirely impossible that the sedan was shipped back to Changchun and converted into a parade car. This theory is supported by the doors. The sedan had conventional doors, and so did the parade car. All other subsequent CA72’s. including other prototypes and parade cars, were fitted with suicide doors.
Normal doors. Benches front and back. Handlebars right behind the front bench. When parading, the dignitary would hold the bar with one hand while waving with the other. In front of the right handle bar stands a microphone, used by the dignitary to greet the troops and masses during a parade.
Early parade cars had in-build speakers, mostly in the luggage compartment. Later on they would use wireless transmission, first to a nearby van fitted with large speakers, and later on, until today, directly to even bigger speakers along the parade-road.
The parade car’s grille was a bit toned down compared with the sedan, but still impressively shiny and still inspired by the shape of a traditional Chinese hand fan. There are fog lights in a beautiful crafted frame, surrounded by yet more shiny chrome.
Sadly we cannot be exactly sure what was under the well-sculpted bonnet, but if it was indeed based on the sedan, it would have been a Chrysler 5.4 liter V8.
The rear end looks very similar to the sedan. The rear lights were inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns, a theme that Hongqi would continue to use on every state-limousine and parade car up until the last CA770.
In the end the CA72 parade car prototype did not make it to the 1959 parade in Beijing, apparently because there wasn’t enough time for a proper “inspection” of the vehicle by the relevant government department. But, happily enough, it was used for a 1959 parade in Changchun, home of the Hongqi factory.
After that sole outing the prototype vanished from earth (again?). It was never seen anymore and no other pictures have ever emerged. I suspect it went back straight to the factory, to be used for yet another prototype.
More on the development of the CA72 soon later!